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Broken Toe

Broken Toe

Definition

A toe fracture is a break in a toe bone. The bones in the toes are called phalanges.

The Phalanges of the Foot
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Causes

A toe fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma can result from:

  • Dropping something on the toe
  • Stubbing the toe
  • Falling down
  • A direct blow to the toe

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the chance of a toe fracture include:

  • Increased age
  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Participating in contact sports
  • Not wearing shoes

Symptoms

A toe fracture may cause:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Stiffness in the injured area
  • Inability to move toe
  • Bruising in injured area
  • Numbness or tingling in the toes
  • Visible deformity in the toe area
  • Difficulty walking (sometimes)

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms, level of physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured area will be examined. Your doctor may take an x-ray of the foot, but this is not always needed.

Treatment

Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with the toe, such as immobility or misalignment. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:

Prevention

To help reduce the chance of a toe fracture:

  • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
  • Wear proper fitting and appropriate shoes for any activity.
  • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
  • Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises regularly to build strong bones.

To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:

  • Clean spills and slippery areas right away.
  • Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
  • Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
  • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
  • Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage.
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